The Clare Rose Playhouse at St. Joseph's College recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, just weeks after the death of its benefactor, Clare Rose.
Rose, who passed away at the end of July, was given a photographical tribute for his monetary and physical contributions to the local theater at a reception held to celebrate the playhouse's 25th birthday.
The gathering brought the Rose family, elected officials, university alumni, students, playhouse volunteers and teachers under the same tent for an afternoon of commemorating the theater.
Rose, who owned Clare Rose, Inc., the largest beverage distribution company on Long Island, was remembered for his intense work ethic at the event.
He was often seen on a tractor or ladder, or with a paint brush in his hand, working on the playhouse during its construction, said Sister Grace Rowland, executive director of the Clare Rose Playhouse.
"He didn't just put money into this," Rowland said, adding the playhouse Rose helped build now holds seven performances per year and has a 6,000-person mailing list.
Others who had heard stories of Rose's hard work and dedication to the playhouse spoke of it nostalgically. "The students were working alongside Clare, and he was a businessman," said Matt Colson, director of alumni relations for St. Joseph's, referring to the construction phase of the playhouse in 1985.
Colson added the Clare Rose Foundation now helps support and maintain the playhouse.
Rose's sons Mark and Ric were present at the event to award Stacey Smith, a 2009 St. Joseph's graduate, with the Clare F. Rose Shining Star Award, much to her surprise.
"I had no idea I was getting an award," Smith said, adding she had flown to the event from her home in Chicago, thinking she'd be making a speech.
Michelle Bertuccio, a graduate student at St. Joseph's who was working the event, said she often watches shows at the Clare Rose Playhouse. She most recently saw Confessions of a Chubby Tomboy, Smith's one-woman show.
"It's nice to be a part of something that's so historic to the campus," she said.